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  • Writer's pictureKandy Thietten

Sugar House

I finally got to go to a maple syrup farm! That's one of the things I was really looking forward to doing in Vermont, and we got to stay three nights at the MacIntosh Hills Maple Works farm. And the very first thing we saw when we got there? The owner's motorcycles, of course! Abe was especially thrilled to see this pristine 1948 Indian Chieftan.

Did you know maple syrup farms don't use buckets to collect sap anymore? I just learned that. The farm had two miles of hose connecting two thousand trees to a vacuum in the sugar house (the building where the sap is collected and cooked down into syrup) that sucks the sap out from February to April.

The owner, Don, gave us a tour of the operation and let us taste the syrups. We got a bottle of the strongest maple syrup I've ever tasted, a bottle of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup with a definite bourbon flavor, and a tub of maple cream that I expected to be similar to crystallized honey, but instead it is almost as smooth as butter. I'm pretty sure we have enough maple syrup to last at least 6 months, but we couldn't resist. It tasted so much better than the maple syrup I usually get from Costco. It was raining pretty much the entire time we were there, but we were still able to take the dogs for a long hike through the thick trees and hills, where we may have gotten slightly lost but we had enough signal to load a map of the area on Abe's phone and get back to a road. The trees were beginning to put on their autumn display of colors and it was gorgeous. I'm figuring out that when you see pictures that are lovely, they always pale in comparison to seeing the thing in person. Once again, I took pictures but know that they don't even begin to do the view justice. A camera can't capture the depth, the shimmer of light, the feel of the air and drops of water on your skin, or the scent of the trees and earth. I wish everybody could have the opportunity to see the country.

Of course, we also found more mushrooms that I had to take pictures of, both at the farm and later in New Hampshire. I got a kick out of the first one. The lacy white body was cool, so I had to look it up. The genus is phallus and the species is Common Stinkhorn. Part of me never grew up, so I got a kick out of that, and of course we had to smell it to see if it really lived up to its name. Yep. It REALLY lives up to its name. After taking a big whiff, I proceeded to wipe my hands on the wet grass and leaves to try to get the stink off. We were thankful to be able to wash our hands when we finally got back to the RV.

We've also seen more wild turkeys in the last couple weeks than I've seen in my previous forty four years. So many wild turkeys! They may have ugly heads, but their body's sure are pretty!

Once we got to New Hampshire, the colors were at their peak in some places. And the buildings! There are so many old buildings in the east, older than I've ever seen. So much history here that I wish I knew. It would be hard not to be a history buff if I lived in an area with so much of our past everywhere I looked.

We took the advice of Peter, the man we met in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the same man who gave us the "Don't wait until it's too late" stickers we now sport on the sides of Ol' Bessie, and drove the Kancamagus Highway to the Hancock campground in the White Mountain National Forest where we stayed three nights. I'm so happy for the recommendation! We could hear a river flowing over rocks a short walk from our site, and there was a path that we took the dogs on as far as Truffle could go, and later rode our bikes on. This place was stunning. The colors were breathtaking, and the river was amazing.

We took our bikes down a trail leading to the Farconia Falls, until we chained them to a tree and hiked the rest of the way.Once we got to the falls, the water was running over massive boulders, creating one of the most beautiful river spots I've seen.

We made it to Maine two days ago, stayed a night at a casino, and made a beeline for the ocean as soon as we woke up. When we walked out on the beach, we both had the same thought. It was just like the Oregon coast, but with more sand and fewer rocks than expected. We did drive by a rocky beach later, and I'm pretty sure I've seen pictures of rocky cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, but that's not what we saw. It was pretty, but not as spectacular as I was expecting. I'm sure a lot of that was just the beach we stopped at. And some of it was the weather - the sky was dark gray, so the water was reflecting dark gray. Even the sand was full of black specks that made it look grayish. The whole scene was very monochromatic. Also, it was cold and for both of us there is nothing better than the sun beating down on a warm beach with warm water washing onto the shore. So far, we haven't seen anything that compares to the beaches of Padre Island in Texas, but we're heading south and I can't wait to see what the southeast shore is like.

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